Is the transfer portal indicative of the next generation of coaches?

There is a lot of positive characteristics attributed to this younger generation – but let’s face it – there is an equal amount of critique. Which had me thinking as a coach responsible for developing and cultivating future leaders that possibly (hopefully) get into coaching one day themselves. What will they be like as coaches? And does the transfer epidemic reflect anything about their future?

The discussion on transferring tends to have two schools of thought:

If coaches have the ability to leave whenever without repercussion, then why shouldn’t the athlete have the same right

Coaches have largely been doing this already; it just so happens they are starting to see the athletes imitate similar intentions. Besides, the number of transfers may be considerably low compared to the future given the possibility of the “Get Out of Jail-Free” rule looming that will allow student-athletes a one-time waiver to transfer without having to sit out a year. This could simply be a product of the environment at that point and the next generation of coaches may come to expect it. But the best recruiters of the future may not come from scouting the grassroots, as opposed to doing recon on Synergy in preparation to poach the current college athletes contemplating entering the transfer portal.

If commitment issues are a struggle for coaches today, the next generation will almost be considered nomadic. Athletes today fight the feeling of being marginalized. There is already a groundswell of disbelief in amateurism combined with the growing need for gratification conditioned by social media; today’s athlete and the next generation of coaches will always keep an eye open on the next best opportunity.

“Slept on”

The type of athlete today is more talented than ever before. We are seeing athletes with the size, speed, and strength doing things that previous generations weren’t allowed to even attempt. Not intended with any disrespect, but Karl Malone goes down in history as a Hall of Famer for what is now considered a dime-a-dozen stretch forward. Alright, that’s a bit of stretch for the 2nd all-time scorer in NBA history. But, that’s just it, today’s athlete is so versatile that it has become that much harder to stand out. Almost to the extent that the best athletes are recognized more for their intangibles than their skill-set –  see the slept on movement.

Consider Damian Lillard as ‘Exhibit B.’ Is he that far off talent-wise from Sebastian Telfair or Trey Burke? All highly regarded coming into the draft, only one excelling at the professional level. Form your own opinions on what separated Lillard from the crowd of homogenous 6′ plus athletes, but being slept on is often misinterpreted for being overlooked despite talented. My hypothesis on the diverging career paths between the three professionals would be based on drive and discipline. Talent is an essential ingredient for any high-competitive opportunity.

The coaching industry is equally competitive, if not even more because applicants with limited athletic experience can still become exceptional coaches. The separation for the next generation of coaches will not come from talent; it will be from playing to their strengths. They will have to be able to cultivate relationships nurturing higher retention rates. They will have to develop brand equity for their program rallying support from the campus, community, and boosters. That isn’t different from today’s coach, but brand equity can take time. Time takes commitment. Are they willing to commit? One other way to stand out is by being the best at taking advantage of the up-and-coming resources that come available. This was recognized in more detail from the next generation of coaches. Coaches can be slept on for years but can take that one time where everything comes together creating more opportunities leaving a lasting legacy or more prosperous opportunities. 

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